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An Immorality Tale in Three Acts

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Item:

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

Item:

However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

Item:

Record sales of iPhones and iPads resulted in record profits at Apple in the final quarter of 2011, the first since the death of its co-founder, Steve Jobs.

Apple more than doubled its profits: to $13.06bn (£8.35bn), compared with $6bn for the same quarter in 2010. The result easily beat analysts’ forecasts, taking pressure off the chief executive, Tim Cook, handpicked by Jobs as his successor. Last October Apple shares recorded their biggest single-day dollar drop after iPhone sales missed their forecast.

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  • Mudge

    Apple products have always cost more than the competitors. Consumers seem to expect that now. Couple high prices with drastically lower manufacturing costs and you get $13.06 Bn in profit. Simple.

    The corrosive aspect of most of businesses is the drug-like need for growth. The use of mortgage securities was a clever way for financial institutions to provide growth. Moving manufacturing to China (Apple) or buying overseas (WalMart) are ways to maintain growth. The American middle class has not had equivalent growth because to grow the middle class results in less growth by corporations.

    • The corrosive aspect of most of businesses is the drug-like need for growth.

      This. When ownership of a company is in the hands of people who make their money from the value of the stock, as opposed to the actual profits of the company, then whatever profit the company made last year becomes the new baseline, and they have to beat it. The serial trading of the company’s stock, as opposed to buying and holding, makes the situation worse, as the projected increase in profits next year becomes baked into the stock sales price, and that becomes the new baseline that has to be beat.

      • BKP

        I’m gonna quote you on this next time we get into an argument over fiscal stimulus.

        • Is that because you don’t understand the difference between stock values and economic growth?

          • Murc

            Is that because you don’t understand the difference between stock values and economic growth?

            Or for that matter, doesn’t have any earthly clue how taking on debt in order to do something that will provide you with returns in the future that are greater than the cost of that debt is one of the cornerstones of commerce?

            • I saw a prominent conservative on MSNBC recently, saying “No one has ever borrowed their way out of debt.”

              Cough cough GM cough cough.

              Aren’t these people supposed to understanding business?

              • BKP

                Yeah. Borrowing got GM out of debt, not bankruptcy, tax breaks, artificially low terms, and a huge restructuring.

                • Did I write anything about the borrowing exclusively getting GM out of debt?

                  For that matter, has anyone written anything about deficits – distinct from what those deficits pay for – getting the US out of debt?

                  Borrowing allows for capital expenditures necessary to make changes, and it allows for the payment of current obligations while those changes are being implemented.

            • Well, if you borrow a million bucks today to open a new factory that can generate thirty years more earnings and replace the aging factory you have now, plus a fifty percent boost in capacity and therefore revenues and concomittant profits, is one way.

            • BKP

              Or for that matter, doesn’t have any earthly clue how taking on debt in order to do something that will provide you with returns in the future that are greater than the cost of that debt is one of the cornerstones of commerce?

              How does that not create a drug-like dependency on growth?

              I understand that the idea that government spending may not result in corresponding economic growth is absurd, but a very big part of your plan involves growth to meet future debt costs.

              • Murc

                How does that not create a drug-like dependency on growth?

                … are you serious? By this logic nobody should ever be allowed to assume debt ever.

                My parents took on debt to buy a home. One day I’ll do the same. That debt produced AMAZING returns for them; they own a friggin’ house! That house let them raise a bunch of kids and is worth a lot on its own. Doesn’t seem to have produced a drug-like dependency on growth.

                I have college loans. Those loans meant I got a pretty good education, which is worth, in both social and purely personal economic terms, a hell of value.

                The country took on more debt than it ever had before in order to win a World War and to beat a depression.

                I mean, yes, debt being a GOOD IDEA is dependent on growth. But describing it as ‘drug-like’ is just crazy. It implies addiction, a problem. I don’t get strung out and withdrawn if I can’t find a good reason to assume debt. I just don’t assume debt.

                • Well, there is a schol of thought, one to which I ascribe, that if you take consumer debt away, nearly all of the last thirty years’ economic growth vanishes.

                  Wage income has remained basically flat, bank interest rates lag inflation, and so to finance our consumption, we rack up credit card debt.

                • BKP

                  I mean, yes, debt being a GOOD IDEA is dependent on growth. But describing it as ‘drug-like’ is just crazy. It implies addiction, a problem. I don’t get strung out and withdrawn if I can’t find a good reason to assume debt. I just don’t assume debt.

                  Its not that debt is bad, its that serial refinancing and constant attempts at increasing the asset values of your financiers is problematic.

                  Our government does that just the same as incorporated businesses.

                • Murc

                  constant attempts at increasing the asset values of your financiers is problematic.

                  First of all, the government is NOT A BUSINESS. Taxpayers are not financiers! It does not work like that.

                  We’re a country of people. Not assets! We’re PEOPLE. And I expect the government to, in fact, try damned hard to increase our quality of life and the value of our nation. That’s its core mission.

              • How does that not create a drug-like dependency on growth?

                Perhaps if we changed the treatment of borrowing costs, and made loan interest non-deductible, that dependency woudl end, cold turkey.

          • BKP

            Is that because you don’t understand the difference between stock values and economic growth?

            Government stimulus is not paid for by promising profits. Government stimulus is paid for by promising an increase in asset values.

            We are in a situation where government revenue for a year becomes a baseline for the next and it has to be beaten.

            • Your last two comments ignore population growth and rising quality of life.

              Stimulus spending isn’t the cause of the need for growth; it is a response to it.

              • BKP

                You merely justify the dependency. You don’t explain it away. The corrosive effect you describe still exists.

                And population growth is its own stimulus, no matter how you look at it.

                • I don’t want to “explain it away,” and yes, the “dependency” on keeping all the mouths fed and maybe even having a little extra to go around is quite justified all by itself.

                  I don’t know what “corrosive” effect I’m supposed to have described. I think all of the effects I’ve described are quite nice.

                  And population growth is its own stimulus, no matter how you look at it.

                  So why is growth some “drug” that you want us to be afraid of becoming “dependent” upon?

                  I’m dependent on food, Brad. From a policy perspective, this is non-negotiable, and trying to work the need for enough food out of society isn’t going to work.

                • BKP

                  I don’t want to “explain it away,” and yes, the “dependency” on keeping all the mouths fed and maybe even having a little extra to go around is quite justified all by itself.

                  You have shifted the goalposts on me. What we were originally referring to is the dependency on growth necessary to maintain increasing refinancing costs, and the constant gradual shifting of baselines.

                  I don’t know what “corrosive” effect I’m supposed to have described. I think all of the effects I’ve described are quite nice.

                  You quoted corrosive effects from Mudge, which appeared to be a matter of finding more and more “clever” ways to generate growth and the diminishing returns that come from that process.

                  So why is growth some “drug” that you want us to be afraid of becoming “dependent” upon?

                  Not growth in general, but growth in government revenue to avoid increasing financing costs.

                  That is what is analogous to your statement about businesses.

                • You have shifted the goalposts on me. What we were originally referring to is the dependency on growth necessary to maintain increasing refinancing costs, and the constant gradual shifting of baselines.

                  OK, I see the problem: that was never my argument.

            • Government stimulus is paid for by promising an increase in asset values.

              Barring an actual purchase of assets?

              Wrong, except to the extent that enhancing revenue and profit growth will enhance asset valuations.

      • Murc

        The serial trading of the company’s stock, as opposed to buying and holding, makes the situation worse, as the projected increase in profits next year becomes baked into the stock sales price, and that becomes the new baseline that has to be beat.

        I am actually unclear as to the value of a lot of stock. My impression has always been that if you owned stock, it meant you owned a chunk of the company, and were entitled to a chunk of its profits, in the form of dividends. This is what made stock, you know, desirable.

        But I know for a fact that there are big profitable companies who don’t pay dividends and have no intention of ever doing so. In fact, I believe Apple is one. So how the hell is their stock valuable at all? Why would you pay money for a piece of paper that doesn’t get you anything? I suppose if you want a say in how a company is run, it would be worthwhile use of your money, but isn’t most stock not really held in huge chunks by individuals?

        • So how the hell is their stock valuable at all?

          Somebody else will pay you for it, based on the assumption that the overall value of the corporation, and thus the value of the 1/1,000,000th of that corporation that you own, will go up.

        • Simply stated, the price of a stock is a best guess estimate of the current value of the income stream that company will throw off, plus whatever underlying fixed assets the company has, divided over the number of shares of the company.

          • Murc

            See, I do know that, actor… but that still makes the stock literally worthless if nobody will pay you a dividend, right? I mean, yes, a bunch of people have pointed out to me ‘but other people want to buy the stock.’

            Why? Why do they want to do this? Doesn’t someone want to get paid somewhere along the line? Is it all just an insane dance where the last one standing when the music stops is left holding the bag?

            • Hogan

              Repeat after me: The music will never stop. The music will never stop. The music will never stop. There’s no place like home . . .

            • Murc,

              Does a lump of gold pay dividends?

              Why do people buy gold?

              • Murc

                Gold has intrinsic value. It’s pretty! You can work it into jewelry. It has industrial uses. Beyond that, buying gold seems dumb.

                I actually don’t understand why people buy gold to let it sit around in bars, in the hope of one day selling it to another guy who will let it sit around in bars. (Or in the hope of the world turning into Fallout, in which case they’re going to wish they had a whole bunch of workable steel.)

                If you’re a Somali warlord, stockpiling gold seems smart. If you live in the civilized world… again, that seems like a shell game. Gold is valuable because it’s valuable because it’s valuable.

                And that seems insane.

                • Gold has intrinsic value. It’s pretty! You can work it into jewelry. It has industrial uses.

                  Honda Motor Company has intrinsic value. It has brand loyalty. It has capital assets. It has very solid expectations of certain levels of future profits. It employs great workers and great brains.

                  Most of the value of gold is not its applications in jewelry and industrial uses.

                  I actually don’t understand why people buy gold to let it sit around in bars, in the hope of one day selling it to another guy who will let it sit around in bars.

                  Because it works, and has always worked.

                  And that seems insane.

                  Insane is the guy who throw out gold, because its value is only socially-constructed anyway.

                  Insane is the black guy who walks into a Klan bar, because rase is only socially constructed anyway.

                  Social constructed is not a synonym for fictional. These things are very, very real.

                • Furious Jorge

                  Gold has intrinsic value.

                  Gold has only the value we as a society give it. Just like damn near everything else.

            • I understand your question: you’re thinking, why would I buy a share now if there’s no way I can see any value out of it later: no dividends, no distributions, nothing.

              Dividends enhance the current price of a share a little, if you’re looking for income, but as someone else said, most stocks are a speculative bet that you can sell for more than you bought, the company will continue to grow and prosper.

              Without getting into too much detail, like “break up value” and such, the base assumption with any stock is that you are buying into a “going concern,” a business that will be around for a while.

              Ultimately, however, one of two things can happen: either the firm goes bust, or another firm buys up the company.

              Remember, a share of stock is a share in the ownership so if another company decides to buy, say, Apple, you as a shareholder get a piece of the purchase price, since that firm will have to buy out at least 50% of the company in order to own it.

              That’s where you get your capital gain.

              The flip side, bakruptcy, is where the value of the share plummets to near-zero. Obviously, you made the wrong bet.

            • Company A is worth a billion dollars. It makes $50 million one year, and pays out $10 million in dividends.

              Company B is similarly situated, but instead of paying that $10 million in dividends, it adds a big wing to its manufacturing facility so it can crank out more product and reap more profits.

              If you own Company A’s stock, you have your share of that billion-dollar item, plus some cash.

              If you own Company B’s stock, you now own a similarly-sized share of an item that is now worth more than a billion dollars.

              • Murc

                But in the case of Company B, you can’t actually realize that value without selling on your share, right? People don’t typically accept stock as a medium of exchange. The value is entirely theoretical. And eventually someone at the end of the chain is going to want, very very badly, to get paid, aren’t they?

                • But in the case of Company B, you can’t actually realize that value without selling on your share, right?

                  Right.

                  The value is entirely theoretical.

                  Wrong.

                • The value is entirely theoretical

                  Speculative is a more accurate characterization. There is intrinsic value to be had from the factory, the machinery and so on, and the revenues you can generate from their work, else why would anyone pay a premium in an attempt to take over the company, a la Bain Capital?

                  Put it this way: I own a company. It has one share, which would sell for $100 on the open market. That valuation is, as we saw, based on the present value of future earnings, plus the widget factory I own, and the land under it.

                  You come along and offer $105.

                  Why?

                  Well, maybe you see a more efficient way to make widgets. Maybe you know that the factory sits on an oil field. Maybe you think I’m undercharging for widgets.

                  Speculative, to be sure, but not theoretical

            • Uncle Kvetch

              I get where Murc is coming from. Ultimately you are talking about a collective fiction: “A share of stock it’s valuable because people think it’s valuable, and they base this belief on the belief that other people think it’s valuable….” It’s turtles all the way down, and it’s very weird when you stop to ponder it. But then so is paper currency, I guess.

              • All economic systems more sophisticated than direct barter are fictions of faith.

                Think about it.

              • Ultimately, all economic value, including that of food and gold, is socially-constructed.

                But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. We aren’t pretending that Honda Motor Company is worth money. It’s actually worth money.

                The observation that value is socially-constructed is like the observation that nothing is really solid, man, because most of the volume of atoms is just empty space. It’s interesting to think about, and there are some applications of this knowledge that are quite useful…but I’m still going to try to avoid letting heavy objects fall on me.

                • Murc

                  Ultimately, all economic value, including that of food and gold, is socially-constructed.

                  I do know this. I mean, I’m not an economic illiterate.

                  But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. We aren’t pretending that Honda Motor Company is worth money. It’s actually worth money.

                  And I’d like a taste of that money. But I’m not sure how buying its stock GETS me that taste.

                  I get how socially agreed-upon mediums of exchange have value; understanding this is intrinsic to understanding why fiat currency is superior to goldbuggery. A government-mandated debt instrument (which is what currency is) provides massive positive social goods, as long as they’re managed properly.

                  But stock as its commonly understood today, when we’ve moved a very, very long way from ‘you may a tenth part of my clipper ship in exchange for a tenth part of the profits when I return with a load of tea’, stock just seems insane to me. It’s not just that we’ve moved beyond it providing a positive good; I understand entrenched interests manipulating things to extract value from them.

                  It’s that we seem to have entered a weird twilight world where it can’t even be used to acquire things of ACTUAL value.

                • The value of the cash you would be paid when the clipper ship sells the tea is every bit as socially-constructed as the increase in value of a stock.

                  I’m on board with your observation about manipulation and paper deals, but the notion of a company itself having a value that increases is well on the good side of that line.

                • BKP

                  Murc,

                  Its also very important to look at how people tend to use stocks in relationship to all of their assets and wealth and the role inflation plays.

                  I would say though, that if stocks were illiquid, then they would certainly have to pay dividends.

                • Murc

                  Its also very important to look at how people tend to use stocks in relationship to all of their assets and wealth

                  As near as I can tell, people treat stocks only marginally more sophisticatedly than a poker player with “a system” treats his chips.

                • As near as I can tell, people treat stocks only marginally more sophisticatedly than a poker player with “a system” treats his chips.

                  You’re starting to get it.

                  Any individual who owns stocks outside of a mutual fund is playing poker.

                  Against card sharks

                  With computers

                  You know the old saw about “Look around the poker table. If you don’t see the sucker, you’re it”?

                  Same thing applies to stocks.

                • Hogan

                  “[P]rofessional investment may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not those faces which he himself finds prettiest, but those which he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors, all of whom are looking at the problem from the same point of view. It is not a case of choosing those which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practise the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.”

                  –John Maynard Keynes

                • Any individual who owns stocks outside of a mutual fund is playing poker.

                  Disagree. Any individual who trades stocks outside a mutual fund is playing poker with card sharks.

                  But if you’ve got a grand burning a hole in your pocket and Honda’s stock just dropped because of some short-term disruption, it isn’t poker to buy Honda stock and sit on it for 10 or 40 years.

                • Disagree. Any individual who trades stocks outside a mutual fund is playing poker with card sharks.

                  You shortcut my comment:

                  Any individual who owns stocks outside of a mutual fund is playing poker.

                  Against card sharks

                  With computers

                • Or I shortcut yours.

                  Either way, one of us messed up and I’ll be damned if I’ll admit it :-)

                • timb

                  Name a society on Earth which had gold available and which treated gold as worthless. When Cortez met the Aztecs, they gave him gifts of gold, despite barely knowing anything about Spain.

                  Gold has value, because every human society with it declares it so.

                  Stock has no value and it’s a mystery why people waste their money on it.

                • Name a society on Earth which had gold available and which treated gold as worthless.

                  Every stone-aged society that existed prior to the development of metal working.

                  Gold has value, because every human society with it declares it so.

                  Indeed, that is the cause; social construction. It has value because society says it does.

                  Stock has no value and it’s a mystery why people waste their money on it.

                  Stock has value for the same reason you just said gold has value because society declares it so.

      • Tcaalaw

        Which is part of why I’ve advocated for years that dividends need to get better tax treatment than capital gains. Also reduces problems with bubbles in the stock market — there are lots of accounting games a company can play to manipulate its stock value, but dividends require a company to actually put cash on the table.

        • Murc

          Wait, dividends aren’t classed as a kind of capital gain?

          What the hell? Aren’t dividends THE capital gain? You’ve bought capital! You own physical shares of a company! How is that not a capital gain if those shares produce money for you?

          • mpowell

            They are not capital gains. Sorry.

          • Dividends are ordinary income. Indeed, there’s even some truth to the claim they are taxed twice (corporations are prohibited from deducting them from taxable income).

            The theory is dividends are paid from current earnings, while capital gains represent long-term unrecognized appreciation in the value of an asset including a stock. Dividends actually reduce that long term gain.

          • Hogan

            Capital gain is the difference between the value of the stock (or other capital asset) when you buy it and the value of the stock when you sell it, assuming the difference is positive. Dividends have no direct connection to the underlying value of the stock, so they’re treated as income, not capital gains. They’re a windfall, not a return on investment.

            The reason people buy stock in companies that don’t pay dividends is that they expect to sell the stock later for more than they paid for it. In other words, it’s a strictly speculative bet.

          • A capital gain is when the share you bought in the company (or the house, or the land, or the bond) rises in value, and you sell it and reap the difference.

            A capital gain isn’t about the item producing value, but about the item itself having value.

            Think about the difference between the rent you get from owning a three-decker, and the three-decker itself becoming more valuable over time. (I realize this is a theoretical example these days, but once upon a time…)

            • Hogan

              Travel with us back into the past.

        • And also, a financial transactions tax.

          Stock holders want companies to flourish over time. Stock traders will be happy to punch holes in the dry wall and steal the copper, if it will create a little blip so they can sell higher than they bought, and what comes next is the other guy’s problem.

          • timb

            This x 50

    • I say this as a Machead who has two iMacs, three Macbooks/Powerbooks, an iPad and an iPhone.

      I think Scott’s point is Apple can afford to dump some profit for better working conditions in Foxconn or look for a different factory.

      Apple has never been about growth, but about cash. That they hit the motherlode with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad hasn’t changed that. It’s only put it into overdrive. They were quite content with being a niche player in the computer category simply because they had enhanced margins that gave them more money than the Federal Reserve has on hand. (look it up)

      It disturbs me as an Apple fan that this is happening, but the flipside is, Apple is far from the biggest customer of Foxconn, much less the only one. And computers and smartphones are too integral to life to go all Luddite.

    • JRoth

      Wow, first comment wrong, and 80 more comments with no one noticing.

      Look at Apple’s most popular/successful/profitable products: iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air. Every single one has multiple competitors. Not a single one has a competitor that is cheaper. You can, of course, get a worse product for less, but that’s a meaningless comparison. Every leading Android phone costs the same as an iPhone. Nobody has been able to make a full-function tablet for less than the iPad (and quite a few have cost more). And, as Windows machines have attempted to match the MacBook Air (Intel calls them Ultrabooks), every one has cost hundreds of dollars more than Apple’s product.

      None of this changes the substance of Scott’s post, but of course neither did Mudge’s incorrect statement. It’s just maddening to see incorrect conventional wisdom mindlessly repeated, whether it’s about the cost of Macs, the quality of American cars, or the value of the bunt.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        You know, my 4th gen iPod Touch, if it were an Android device, would’ve gotten clobbered in the reviews. Quite often its slow and buggy, not very responsive to tapping the icons on the screen. A device that “just works”? Please, Apple shortchanges its iOS devices that aren’t the iPhone *256 MB of RAM instead of 512* cough.

        • JRoth

          You should get that cough checked out. It’s really lengthy.

          My point wasn’t that Apple products are perfect; it’s that it’s no longer true – at all – that they’re pricey compared to actually competitive products. There are cheaper Android phones (although by now the 3GS is free), but they’re, you know, cheap, with lots of plastic and low res screens (that’s what I meant by “worse product”). The top of the line Android phones cost the same as a 4S. The Kindle Fire is much cheaper than an iPad, but it’s clearly not the same kind of tablet. RIM’s Playbook cost more than an iPad, and was universally judged inferior. The Xoom costs the same as an iPad (and only certain models get the latest OS). Etc.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Yeah, last week I got a 3G iPhone free with contract, and the lower-end 4G would have been $100. Cheaper than most Androids and BlackBerrys with inferior or vastly inferior interfaces.

          • Uh, Mudge didn’t say anything about they’re pricey compared to actually competitive products.

            He said they build expensive products, ones that have higher margins. He said they build Cadillacs instead of Hyundais.

            I think you’re reading a meaning of “providers of identical products” into his word “competitors,” but firms compete on both prices and quality all the time, and consumers often compare cheaper products with fewer features to more expensive ones with more features all the time when making their purchasing decisions.

            Should I get large brown eggs or jumbo this week? The two egg providers are competing for my dollar, one with a cheaper, lesser product and one with a more expensive, better one. I’m still choosing between them. They’re still competitors.

      • MacBook Air?

        Base model $999

        Similar 11.6 inch notebooks:

        Lenovo ThinkPad $426
        Samsung $459
        Acer $526

        I’d say 50% is substantially cheaper.

        • JRoth

          Not similar.

          Air: 2.38 lbs, 2/3″ thick, 1.6 Ghz i5 chip, 3MB cache, flash drive
          Lenovo: 3.9 lbs, 1″ thick, 1.3 Ghz i3 chip, 1 MB cache, disk hard drive
          Samsung: 2.8 lbs, 7/8″ thick, 1.3 Ghz i3, ?? cache, disk hard drive

          I’d say that, if your definition of “similar” is “same screen size”, then your point stands. Otherwise, you’re talking about slower, heavier, bigger, shorter battery life laptops costing less. I have no idea what you think you’ve proved.

          Lenovo has just dropped the price on their cheapest ultrabook, which is very comparable to a 13″ MacBook Air for a $100 less, but it has a slower processor and lower res screen and is 4 months newer. So, at their very best, Lenovo can match Apple a few months later.

          • Mudge didn’t say anything about “similar.”

            In the competition for laptop customers, Apple competes with higher quality and more features, while its competitors compete with lower prices.

          • Lenovo also has an i5 chip for slightly more (like $20 more).

            And for the vast majority of consumers, the speed differential between an i3 and an i5 is not noticeable, but the doubled price tag most certainly is.

            And what I proved is, if Lenovo or Samsung or Acer had replaced the chip, it STILL wouldn’t cost anywhere near $999, so your point is fallacious in this instance.

            • And before you get all nutsty, scroll down a few posts to where I describe all the Apple products I already own, so you’re not talking to someone who is unversed in the advantages of Mac v PC.

              I’m saying the price disadvantage of Apple is still there, and still quite strong, particularly on computers.

      • wengler

        Wow. There’s just too much wrong in this post to point it all out.

        -Apple has a ton of competitors. No, it has none that are also called Apple.

        -Most leading Android phones are cheaper to much cheaper than iPhones. You get into problems when looking at contract-connected prices.

        -Every single ‘full-function'(whatever that means) tablet is cheaper than the iPad. I have one.

        -I have no idea about the ultra-thin laptop market but you are undoubtedly wrong there as well.

    • DrDick

      This, a thousand times this! Infinite growth is impossible in a finite economy/market. This is not to say that companies cannot grow or increase market share over time, rather that we should not automatically assume that they will. this is the central fallacy of modern capitalism and the driving force (along with rent seeking CEOs looting the companies) behind the race to the bottom on wages and regulation. In the 1950s-1970s investors were primarily looking for stability, rather than growth. Potential for growth (from new products or intensive investment in R&D) was a plus, but not absolutely necessary. Of course at that time, investment income came mostly from dividends rather than trades.

  • Huntly

    While the attention to the work/life conditions at Foxconn is a good and necessary thing, there are 25 other company’s listed on Wikipedia that use them to make products; Apple is only one of 13 from the US. I imagine that this is only a partial list as well.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn#Major_customers

    • Slocum

      So why is Apple taking all the heat? (I’m not an Apple fan at all.)

      • Hanspeter

        Visibility, which is weird given the other companies on that list.

        • Hogan

          Well, a certain kind of visibility. Apple pretends to be better than the others, more cute and friendly and people-oriented.

          • Slocum

            Apparently not Chinese people.

          • DrDick

            I think that pretty much is the critical factor, the perceived hypocrisy.

      • Anonymous

        Apple has a large share of the market. Their practices exert pressure on all makers.

        And yes, there is the “well, the world is a better place because their products are so great” mindset that needs some push back. I don’t see this line of reasoning used quite as much in recent days, however.

        • Slocum

          Yes, but this is a list that includes Microsoft, Nokia, Dell, and Nintendo.

          I’m all for Apple bashing, but getting this to change will mean pressure on all these actors, even if Apple seems to be capturing a bigger and bigger share of the smartphone market.

      • TT

        Status, visibility, etc.

    • wengler

      It’s simple. They already charge a lot for their products. Any reliance on near-slave labor is greed raking for them.

  • DrDick

    But Steve Jobs deserved all of his bazillions of dollars because he is a job creator! Really shitty, low paid, dangerous Chinese jobs, but still jobs.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Shenzhen: Mitch Daniels’ Jobs program.

  • Ugh

    Well, since they’re not Christians they’re going to Hell anyway, so how is this any worse? In fact, they should consider themselves lucky!

  • Well, at least now we know why they’re not coming back: only illegal immigrants would make them. No meth-head would ever stand for that abuse.

  • BigHank53

    Here are some actual good numbers on the cost breakdown of iPhone components. Foxconn earns $6.50 for putting one together.

  • witless chum

    Great post, Scott. Leftism as consumerism is one of my hobbyhorses and there needs to be an electronics equivalent of my cars built by the UAW in Lordstown, Ohio and Wayne, Michigan.

  • mpowell

    This has gotten a little ridiculous. The step where Jobs would have been complicit in creating this dynamic is in the degree to which he supported fewer restrictions on trade with China. Given that we have domestic labor laws and a minimum wage, I’ve always thought that free trade agreements that did not bother taking into account working conditions for labor in trade partners were bullshit. Economists, of course, don’t care, because 90% of them don’t believe in labor law (the free market fixes everything), but that is where you have to attack the problem. This is a collective action problem for Apple as much as it is for us until we have legislation dealing with this kind of issue.

    But for consumer electronics manufacturing, that really is gone at this point no matter what. The entire supply chain is in East Asia so you’re not going to pull a single piece back over here.

    • Murc

      I am generally of the opinion that if capital is allowed to flow freely, labor deserves the exact same fucking rights.

    • Economists, of course, don’t care, because 90% of them don’t believe in labor law (the free market fixes everything)

      That’s not fair. Most economists are not market fetishists. It was economists themselves who invented the concepts of market failure, imperfect knowledge, and imperfect markets.

      Much like actual people in the military are a hell of a lot more reasonable and thoughtful than their Bush-worshipping internet fan club, so are economists, as a whole, a lot more insightful and reasonable than the people who subscribe to Reason magazine.

      • Murc

        To expand on what joe has said, even among economists whose views are questionable, they generally tend to be guys who are at least marginally concerned with treating their sciences AS a science.

        But there are a handful of them who are willing to do and say insane things, either out of genuine belief or for financial inducement, and since those insane things line up with the interests of powerful people, they can get a lot of promotion.

        • Anonymous

          Perhaps the first step is scrapping the idea that economics is “science”. The heterodox economists seem to understand this.

          • More precisely, it’s a social science, not a hard science.

            • Anonymous

              Yes, social science that claims more ability to predict than the other social sciences.

              • I don’t know about that.

                Poli Sci claims quite a bit of ability to predict.

                • Wht predictions have poli sci theorists made?

                • I’m not sure why you used the word “theorists,” and what other practitioners of political science you are distinguishing them from.

                  Political scientists have predicted election outcomes and the fall of governments.

                • Oh, OK, see, I wasn’t sure if you were talking about that or some broader political trends.

                • Ooh! I’ve got another one, actor212:

                  Political scientists have predicted that legislative systems that include certain features will be more/less stable and more/less responsive to public opinion than if they’d been designed with other features.

                • Wow! That could be in the Farmer’s Almanac of Politics, that’s so specific and accurate!

                • It’s exactly as specific and accurate as Political scientists have predicted election outcomes and the fall of governments.

                  It’s a description, not a catalogue. Sheesh.

                • Furious Jorge

                  But what do they say about the bully pulpit?

            • Murc

              To a lot of scientists, that means that it doesn’t REALLY count.

              Hell, I’ve met scientists who have doubts about some of the hard sciences as well. I’ve been straight-up told that engineering isn’t a science.

      • Slocum

        It was economists themselves who invented the concepts of market failure, imperfect knowledge, and imperfect markets.

        Yes, but most of this is old news Market failure was acknowledged by the classical economists and, if I’m not mistaken, Marshall identified the issue of externalities around the turn of the century. Information asymmetry was thematized in the 70s, if it wasn’t implicit before.
        The problem is the way in which *neoclassical economics* has distorted they way economics is taught and researched. Micro 101, the first and for general education requirements purposes, the only econ class most people take does not take these issues that seriously. Furthermore, economists, in their research, are notorious for making a model and rejecting data that does not fit it. I think the situation is improving, though.

        Other point: general knowledge of economics in the US seems to be disseminated from MBAs. This is horrifying. MBAs have *some* knowledge of economics, but not nearly as much as you would think or hope. I once asked an MBA class what determines the monetary value of an item and the very first answers had to do with effort put into making it and decision-making in the firm. I nearly wept.

        • The problem is the way in which *neoclassical economics* has distorted they way economics is taught and researched.

          Exactly.

          The complaints people make about “economists” are rightfully hurled a certain politicized subset of economists.

          Remember when the libertarian group sent out a questionnaire about the minimum wage to hundreds of economists and the majority supported it? That was so awesome.

    • The entire supply chain is in East Asia so you’re not going to pull a single piece back over here.


      Not entire true. The auto industry shows that you can do significant “back office” manufacturing in East Asia, but still assemble completed products anywhere. I guess it comes down to the shipping costs involved in shipping car parts v. cars, and there’s probably a different dynamic for consumer electronics, but it can happen

      • Murc

        I guess it comes down to the shipping costs involved in shipping car parts v. cars

        This is exactly right. I often manage to elicit an “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” from people by telling them to look at a car and contemplate exactly how much of it is just empty air. They’re some of the least efficiently stackable objects in the world.

      • JRoth

        If you look at the NYT article, though, it’s clear that Shenzhen’s competitive advantage has much less to do with low wages and bad conditions than it does with a cluster of mutually-supporting manufacturers. Corning invented Gorilla Glass in upstate NY, but they don’t make it there, because there’s nothing else in NY state that would actually use the stuff. Even if it were cost-competitive to make it there and ship it to China to be added to other electronics components, you’d still be dealing with the issue that it takes a container 3 weeks to get from Corning to Shenzhen, during which time product requirements might have changed. Apple flips their product lines less often, but Samsung and Motorola are putting out new Android phones every month or two.

        It’s not that none of this is possible; but you need a big advantage to justify building a component more than a few days’ shipping from the China coast.

        • Murc

          it’s clear that Shenzhen’s competitive advantage has much less to do with low wages and bad conditions than it does with a cluster of mutually-supporting manufacturers.

          And those mutually supporting manufacturers located in Shenzhen because they knew that they could pay low wages and not have to provide good working conditions.

          • JRoth

            Oh sure, but the point is that the cluster is now self-sustaining – Bangladesh can’t come in and poach jobs by paying even less (they could get a leg up in the next big thing, but that’s different).

            And it’s important to realize that these clusters often (usually?) have long-term effects. It’s been 30 years since Pittsburgh was an important steelmaking locale, but it remains a world leader in high tech alloys, because expertise built up over 100 years gave it a competitive advantage long after globalization and union busting destroyed the mills.

            Point being that, even once China gets living wages and labor rights (we hope), Shenzhen will likely remain an important center for electronics, even if some of the lowest skill work goes elsewhere. It’s not just a big maquiladora. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s becoming more.

  • I was going to talk about this, but Scott beat me to it. So I’ll just say one thing–I don’t have high expectations for any capitalist to really care about workers, but Jobs seems to have shown an especially remarkable level of indifference to the human suffering he caused in the name of excessive profit.

    A very bad person.

    • snarkout

      I don’t think it’s surprising that Apple is making its supplier chain a little more transparent (including reporting on third-party audits) now that Jobs is dead and Tim Cook is in charge.

      • JRoth

        I believe that corporate giving is also already increasing. Jobs was many things, but charitable was definitely not on the list.

      • Yeah, it’s definitely a small step in the right direction.

    • timb

      Amen. and, a bit of a dick too

  • Andrew R.

    But Mac products are inherently ethical and progressive! Because they’re used by liberal white yuppies and, I guess, artists. And they’re pretty and sleek! And blah blah some bullshit about the fusion of the liberal arts and electronics blah blah.

    • Because they’re used by liberal white yuppies and, I guess, artists.

      No.

      It’s because Apple gets how people use technology. That’s why they’re progressive.

      Ethical is a moral judgement. You, um, do realize you’re making a moral judgement about an inanimate object, right?

      • Slocum

        He’s making a moral judgment about how people think about the value of an inanimate object. That is, in this case, superficially and superciliously.

        Also, Apple’s “progressiveness” and political progressivness are two different animals and comparing them involves an equivocation (which is part of the point Andrew R. may have been making).

        • I seriously doubt anyone ever ascribes political motivations to their iMac or iPhone.

          Indeed, the Bush White House used Macs almost exclusively. Hardly a bastion of liberal thought.

          So he’s basically setting up a strawman, then knocking it down by himself, and doing the little Snoopy Dance of superiority.

          OK, got it.

          • Anonymous

            Rush Limbaugh uses Apple products, too, and proudly so.

            • Yes, and he also smokes cigars. So do I.

              I mean, really…non-sequitors?

          • Anonymous

            Ex:

            Limbaugh said:
            I’m using it and I love it. I’m using a beta of the new Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the new operating system. It’s fabulous, Snerdley. The things they’ve done in the mail app are just fabulous. I tell you what they’ve done. They’ve brought so much of the mobile operating system from the iPhone and the iPad over to the computer, it’s… (interruption) Oh, no, I have a developer release. I’m an official registered developer out there. I’m one of the testers here. Everything aboveboard. The latest is it’s gonna release via the Mac App Store, not DVD. No DVD release. (interruption) Well, it’s four gigabytes. It’s gonna depend on what your connection speed is, but July 6th, I think, it’s out. Did I see July 5th or 6th at noon? It’s fabulous. (interruption) Oh, yeah, everything integrates. It’s perfecto. Look, I don’t want to spend time talking about it now; it’s something you have to see. But I’m just telling you I like it. It’s a significant increase.

            http://macdailynews.com/2011/06/30/rush-limbaugh-apples-os-x-lion-is-fabulous-perfecto/

          • Andrew R.

            [Eye roll]

            Come on. “I’m smart enough to reject consumerism! Except for owning every Mac product possible. Blah blah evil corporations sweatshops in China blah blah. But Apple’s different.” If you haven’t heard some variant of that from the Jobs fluffers, you’re blind, deaf, and dead.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        No, its because Apple (and SV in general) occupies a certain niche in people’s mind. They hire geeky, nerdy progressives who wear t-shirts and jeans to work, have quirky workplaces. And tons of people here do various sorts of recreational drugs. Therefore Apple can’t be evil!

  • Anonymous

    I guess the “solution” is for the Chinese workers to go back to the rice paddy (which was SO much better than a factory, amirite?) just so high school educated union thugs in Michigan can get paid $50/hour to turn a wrench.

    And joey is still as economically illiterate as he was when he posted over at H&R (before running away like the little chickenshit he is because someone dared (DARED!) to criticize Teleprompter Jesus in the same way we criticized Bush).

    • The solution is for the factories to be held to higher standards.

      And I love how I still loom so large in your mind years later. Almost as much as how you invoke the libertoid brand name EKONOMIKS! without being able to put forward any sort of an argument. I remember a lot of that from H&R.

      Teleprompter Jesus

      Gee, why on earth could I have possibly decided that it wasn’t worth my time to read what you have to say? I can’t imagine.

      • Anonymous

        JOE BOYLE LOOMS LARGE!!!!

        Go back to your substitute teaching job loser.

        • Again, I’m baffled as to why I decided it was a waste of time to try to talk politics with you and your buddies.

          It must be cowardice. I just can’t handle the truth.

          Yeah, that’s it.

      • timb

        No, Joe, there is only the binary choice he presented, despite thousands of years of contrary history. Either/or

        Personally, what I like about his comment was the part about how Apple expects the US government to protect its patents, enforce its contracts, provide infrastructure for their executives and headquarters, represent them in the WTO, provide the governing regulations for the financial and banking system which makes them rich, and provide local police power to keep the “high school educated union thug” from trying to steal a loaf of bread from an Apple executive, and to maintain an economic system where assholes from the Cato institute can thrive while producing literally nothing except a variation of “Leave Me Alone,” so much so that the assholes can afford to purchase Apple products…

        In return for the protection of our laws, economy, police power Apple owes America absolutely nothing. When the choice is between making a profit of 13 bn one quarter or 8 bn and, you know, being a part of the society they feed off of like a parasite, then, gosh golly, I think they should take the 8 billion.

        Then again, I’m not a libertarian moron who never heard of Henry Ford.

    • (before running away like the little chickenshit he is because someone dared (DARED!) to criticize Teleprompter Jesus in the same way we criticized Bush).

      Ooh, yeah, baby. You won’t find me commenting on any blogs where President Obama is criticized.

      Everyone here is always complaining about how I run away when anyone criticizes Barack Obama, amirite?

      • Anonymous

        Your last temper tantrum was screaming RAAAACIIIIST! and stomping out.

        You just couldn’t take real criticism of Dear Leader, especially from a civil liberties point of view (see also your hysterical reactions to Glenn Greenwald).

        Seriously, you lasted all of a month there into the Obama regime. You just couldn’t quite get past your double-think of defending Obama for doing the same things Bush did, after you criticized Bush for years and told us all how wonderful the Democrats would be for civil liberties.

        • You know, Tim Cavanaugh wrote me an email asking why I stopped commenting, and when I told him that the irrational, bitter, content-free whining of people like you had rendered attempts to discuss politics in the threads worthless, he agreed with me.

          Ha ha. Your own kind can’t even stand what you’ve turned into.

          • Anonymous

            Tim CavanaughDave Weigel wrote me an email…

            FTFY. And I doubt even that happened.

            Tell everyone about the RAAAAAACIIIISM that made you leave, joey. And then maybe we can talk about my Single Issue.

            • Why don’t you ask him?

              • Tim, I mean.

                It wasn’t Weigel who wrote to me; it was Cavanaugh.

              • Anonymous

                Tell everybody here so they finally realize what a petulant little shitbrain you are.

                • Why don’t you ask him? I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find an email address at whatever outlet he’s working for now?

                  Go ahead, write him an email. Ask him to cc the email address I used to use at H&R.

                  “Oh no!” thinks the troll. “This parachute is a backpack!”

                • Hogan

                  We know what joe is, and we know what you are. Now fuck off back to your swamp and croak to the other toads.

                • Anonymous

                  Blah blah blah…again tell everyone here why you left. I already know, it would just be hilarious if you told the people here, though. I mean the specific thread you threw your tantrum on, and why.

                  Hint: Something dared to assault the Honor of Our Dear Leader President Barack Obama

                  Petulant. Shit. Brain.

                • again tell everyone here why you left.

                  I already did.

                  And the then-editor of the site agreed with me.

                  BTW, do you think that “You objected to unhinged, racist denunciations of Barack Obama” is supposed to make me look worse at LGM?

                • Anonymous

                  What, exactly, specifically, was the “unhinged racist denunciation” that made you leave, Threadwinner Joe?

                • I mean the specific thread you threw your tantrum on, and why.

                  And this, my pill-popping amigo, is the final score of our little jousts: I don’t even remember what specific straw broke the camel’s back for me, while years later, you could probably quote it in full.

                  Because I just mean that much to you. Clearly, I must have done a terrible job of holding my own.

                • Anonymous

                  You talk about “unhinged racism” and you can’t even find a single example. Wow.

                • What, exactly, specifically, was the “unhinged racist denunciation” that made you leave, Threadwinner Joe?

                  Hey, look, I posted a pre-buttal.

                  This really is a trip down memory lane.

                • You talk about “unhinged racism” and you can’t even find a single example

                  Find would mean I’d looked.

                  Only one of us seems to have such motivation.

                  Still spending your days with oxycontin and your monitor, I see.

                • Anonymous

                  There of course, isn’t one.

                  That’s because you’re a petulant little shitbrain that used RAAACIIIISM as a cheap excuse to flounce, like most “progressives” do.

                • That’s because you’re a petulant little shitbrain that used RAAACIIIISM as a cheap excuse to flounce, like most “progressives” do.

                  So, how’s that effort to garner sympathy with the LGM commenters and make them conclude that my departure from Reason wasn’t brought about by unhinged, racially-charged rants working out for you?

        • timb

          libertarians = racists?

          Who knew?

          • Most libertarians are not racists!

            As I said, the population over there changed. The reasonable people bailed.

            • timb

              We’ll agree to disagree?

    • high school educated union thugs in Michigan can get paid $50/hour to turn a wrench.

      And also, Democrats are elitists who think they’re better than average Americans.

      LOL.

    • wengler

      ‘Hey Jimmy! What type of wrench do I use on this iPhone!?’

      ‘I dunno man just use the adjustable!’

      Also coal miners need to go back to the era where they were paid in company scrip.

      • Libertarians are very, very compassionate, egalitarian people, who have much more respect than liberals for thugs ordinary Americans.

        They just have a better way of promoting their interests, and don’t like big government.

        • Anonymous

          Still bitter at libertarians. Guess you got your Masshole ass kicked one too many times in the comment threads.

          • Still bitter at libertarians.

            Like Hagler’s bitter at his punching bag.

            Remind me, which one of us is “bitter” enough to seek the other out and write content-free comments on blogs he doesn’t care about because his feelings are just so strong?

            • Anonymous

              Right, which is why you ran away screaming RAAAAAACIIIIIISSSSMMM!

              Once a “progressive” does that, they’ve conceded you won.

              • Gee, how could anyone possibly find racism in the rantings of people who claim that complaining about racism can only ever be an admission of defeat?

                • timb

                  Don’t you know if you capitalize it and put it quotes, there is no racism?

          • wengler

            Reality is bitter at the Propertarian Party.

            • Reality is amused by the Propertarian party, and a little sad about its decline.

              The Propertarian Party, on the other hand, really feels the need to work out some feelings, I guess.

          • I think libertarians are sweet.

            But that’s usually because I soak them in a teriyaki-pineapple marinade before roasting them on the coals of true libertarianism.

          • timb

            Everyone is bitter about libertarians. They’re annoying pedantic morons who would return the country to Jim Crow, child labor, and quid pro quo bribery to elected officials.

    • high school educated union thugs in Michigan can get paid $50/hour to turn a wrench.

      You sound jealous and embittered. Is that because you only pull down minimum wage writing dopey comments on blogs?

      • My crazy exgirlfriend’s “job” is to accept money from his rich daddy and spend it on his drug habit.

        • I wish I was born white.

        • asdfsdf

          “His?” Is she your ex-girlfriend because he wasn’t actually a woman? Or is anonymous’s father giving your ex money?

          • asdfsdf

            Oh. Forgive me. I can be slow. Although you could have a crazy trustfunding ex-girlfriend…

  • Anonymous

    SUBSTITUTE TEACHER THREADWINNER JOE BOYLE LOOMS LARGE!!

    • Clearly.

      I can troll you without even remembering that you exist. That’s pretty large.

      Dance, monkey. Write another comment.

      • It worked!

        Now do a black flip.

      • witless chum

        All caps and everything. Egad.

        • Honestly, they weren’t all like this back in the day. It’s just after the election of Barack Obama. The worst once became completely unhinged, and the better ones left for greener pastures.

          • Anonymous

            Still waiting for any kind of example of “becoming unhinged” or even the slightest example of racism.

            We all became “unhinged” in January 21st, 2009 because we criticized Obama the same way we criticized Bush. It’s the same reason people like joe used to idolize Glenn Greenwald, and now he’s a traitor to their cause.

            • You keep waiting. I’ll get right on that.

              After all, your little performance here certainly does throw cold water on the notion that the site you frequent is full of unhinged, racially-tinged rants about Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular. I sure do feel desperate to prove it now.

              Whatever gets you through the night. Maybe a couple more capital As in “racism” would really make me feel like I need to find some quotes.

              • Anonymous

                Once again proving that “That’s racist” is to Obama supporters in 2012 what “Why do you hate America/the troops”? was to Bush supporters in 2004.

              • Anonymous

                After all: Bill and Hillary Clinton are racists (or at least were in in the spring of 2008), Glenn Greenwald is a racist, Jane Hamsher is a racist, Ralph Nader is a racist, Ron Paul is a racist, Daily Kos is now racist…did I miss anybody?

                • Malaclypse

                  Charles Murray. Please do keep up with the posts.

                • DrDick

                  Is it just me or is the quality of our trolls deteriorating rapidly?

                • Malaclypse

                  Is it just me or is the quality of our trolls deteriorating rapidly?

                  I miss the spittle-fleck stream-of-rage trollery of The Donalde. There is really very little chance of this troll bursting a blood vessel while trolling us, but pounding out that final “submit comment” while all around him, the world fades to black in the aftermath of a gigantic aneurism. You knew that Donalde would go out screaming “to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” This guy, not so much.

                • Who was the guy who used to call Scott, “Pepe Lemieux?”

                  Was that the Donalde? That guy could muster up some humor.

                • Murc

                  Is it just me or is the quality of our trolls deteriorating rapidly?

                  This is worse than usual.

                  Also, maybe its just me, but I can’t take this guy seriously using ‘Anonymous’ as his handle. For gods sake, the site doesn’t require you or register or anything. Come up with a handle! At least Norman had an amusing schtick where he’d post under the name of long-dead socialists.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yep. The Donalde was always good for a laugh. Good times, good times…

                • timb

                  yourself?

  • Pingback: An Immorality Tale in Three Acts : Lawyers, Guns & Money | Hard Earn()

  • david mizner

    Didya notice that the suicides and abusive conditions in Apple factories are getting a lot of coverage in this country now that Jobs is dead.

    The British press has been on this for years.

    • wengler

      Steve Jobs was rich and famous. US corporate media won’t report bad things about our betters.

      They didn’t even touch how he vultured a liver out of Tennessee by buying a house there after he learned they had the shortest waiting list in the country.

      • Slocum

        He probably paid extra to kill the person with the liver with his own bare hands.

        • wengler

          No way. That’s covered under Southern hospitality.

    • Popeye

      um, the suicide and abusive condition stories were a big news story in the US years ago as well.

      • david mizner

        Really? I don’t remember that. Do you have any links? (Not because I don’t believe you.)

        I do know that last year’s suicide story, with the factory putting up nets and prohibiting suicide, got little play in this country.

        • Popeye

          Google “NYT Foxconn 2010”

          On my computer I’m seeing 8 different New York Times articles from May and June 2010 on the first page of results.

          One article that doesn’t show up is this magazine piece

          http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/magazine/27FOB-consumed-t.html

          which contains the line:

          “…but had you heard of Foxconn Technology before multiple suicides by workers became a big news story?”

  • Sorry about my crazy ex-girlfriend.

    • Murc

      You should be! He put me in the position of agreeing with, and wanting to defend, you. I may never forgive either of you.

      • wengler

        Good point. Some Libya posts will cure it.

        • That would be a good way to get back to our familiar entrenched stalemate.

          Oops! Sorry, wengler. Too soon?

        • Murc

          You know, giving the war drums that are beginning to sound over Syria, I think Farley will likely have a few (more) Libya posts relatively soon. Then we can all get back the familiar status quo.

          • You know what would have been awesome? Seeing some more Libya posts anyway, focusing on the post-war situation.

            All sorts of people made all sorts of predictions about what would happen if the rebels won. Skeery al Qaeda Mooslems, anarchy, plagues of locusts.

            I think the progress of Arab Spring is an interesting topic even outside the question of American military force, and the question of the longer-term consequences of different types of American involvement is an important one.

            Oh, well.

            • Murc

              Well, Crooked Timber does have a post up.

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